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In the Flesh Paperback – February 1, 2001
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From Library Journal
Four novellas by horror writer Barker ( The Inhuman Condition ) make up this slim but worthwhile collection. In one, a prison inmate is haunted by the spirit of his grandfather; in another, a young woman studying graffiti in a seedy housing project encounters a local legend in the flesh. This British writer's plots are extremely inventive and creative; like Peter Straub, he produces intellectual horror stories that are truly frightening. Only the final story, in which an American tourist stumbles across a strange asylum, with world-shaking results, is weak in comparison to the compelling eeriness and atmosphere of the others, yet still clever. Horror fans unacquainted with Barker's work will enjoy a new author; established fans will be enthusiastic. Recommended for large fiction collections. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternates. Eric W. Johnson, Univ. of Bridgeport Lib., Ct.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Detroit News With elegant, terrifying strokes, Barker draws a universe of fear underlying the commonplace....Behind every mirror, under every carpet and in the heart of dirty streets is an elemental evil, a raw and hungry power....This is good, scary, stuff...The pacing is inexorable, the settings chilling, and the fates remorseless. In the Flesh makes you wonder what horror lies around the corner.
The Boston Herald [Barker] gives his stories the certainties of bad dreams...The first and last stories in this collection stand out as horror classics, meriting frequent glimpses into dark cornersfor a good while after they are done.
The Philadelphia Inquirer Fiendishly good...unnerving, inspired...death, sex, fear, and self-knowledge come forth in many guises.
The New York Times Book Review ...plays upon our unconscious terrors...What a breath of fresh, if chilling, air.
Top customer reviews
To be completely honest, my rating of four stars is probably due to the fact that I've read enough of Clive Barker that his impressive imagination isn't quite as amazing to me as it used to be (though it's still powerful). I felt for the first time that Barker's stories were a tiny bit formulaic, meaning that wierd and bizzare things are going to happen in the story, it's just a matter of how you get there that is different (such as a jail cell, abandoned buildings, and a woman driving down an unknown road).
Here's a quick breakdown of the stories:
In The Flesh: One of the stories I felt was slightly formulaic, where a man in jail gets a new cellmate who's grandfather was hung at the same prison many years before. Slightly predictable, didn't have the same bang to it that some of Barker's other stories. I did like the setting however.
The Forbidden: Good story, and I liked it because it offered a bit of variety, whereas there wasn't too much dark fantasy, more like a straight up thriller for the most part. My second favorite story.
The Madonna: Another good story, typical Barker, but well fleshed-out and written very well. My personal favorite story
Babel's Children: Very interesting story, even for Barker's imagination. The concept is quite good, and there's a heavy dose of mystery in this story up to a point. Not quite amazing, but a nice finish to the books of blood for me.
If you've read and enjoyed other volumes of The Books of Blood, then you'll know what to expect with In The Flesh. Even when his stories aren't at full strength, they are still pretty potent.